Dual-echo, chemical shift gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging to quantify hepatic steatosis: Implications for living liver donation

Liver Transpl. 2003 Aug;9(8):851-6. doi: 10.1053/jlts.2003.50153.


In living liver donation, a fatty liver poses risks for both recipient and donor. Currently, liver biopsy is the standard for assessing the presence and extent of steatosis. The goals of this study were to correlate a steatosis index derived from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the histologic grade on biopsy as well as to determine the topographic distribution of steatosis within the liver. We examined the ability of dual-echo, chemical shift gradient-echo MRI to predict the degree of steatosis on liver biopsy. A total of 22 subjects received both a liver biopsy and detailed MRI evaluation. These individuals included 15 potential living donors and 7 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. MRI steatosis index was then compared with histologic grade on liver biopsy. The topographic distribution of hepatic steatosis was determined from those subjects in whom MRI detected hepatic steatosis. The steatosis index had a positive correlation with grade of steatosis on liver biopsy (correlation coefficient, 0.84). There was no significant variation in the degree of steatosis among segments. A steatosis index of >0.2 had good positive and negative predictive value for the presence of significant steatosis (>15%) on biopsy. Our quantitative MRI protocol can predict the degree of hepatic steatosis when it is minimal to moderate, and may obviate the need for liver biopsy for the purpose of quantification of steatosis in living donors. Fat saturation added to the MRI protocol may further improve diagnostic accuracy. This technique may be applicable to the larger population with hepatic steatosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged